Joy-Seeking in South Central Colorado (Part I)

So there hasn’t been much cycling for me lately, as I’m trying to rehab a hip and psoas issue that I’ve struggled with for almost a year. And, despite some of the recent weather, it is still winter.

But that doesn’t mean there can’t be joy found in the outdoors. Last weekend we decided to hike. Maureen asked one of our biking friends, who seems to have great adventures every week, to recommend an easy hike not too far from Pueblo. She recommended the Tunnel Drive Trail in Cañon City. It did not disappoint.

We headed out mid-day, since (again) it is winter and mornings are chilly. Plus, there was football earlier. European football, of course, since American football has abandoned us until autumn. I opted for lightweight synthetic travel pants and a long-sleeved shirt (given that this version of winter has high temps above 60) and took the opportunity to put some miles on my almost new boots. I didn’t really need the long sleeves or the boots.

The Tunnel Drive Trail is on the far side of Cañon City from Pueblo, just after the road takes a bend and passes the old (and still operating) Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility. It’s a short drive off Highway 50 to a small parking area, which actually does have a restroom (it seems to be new).

As we took turns at the trailhead facilities, we saw a bald eagle soaring overhead. OK, good start. We took off up the fairly steep, but paved, switchbacks at the beginning of the path, which luckily proved to be the only real incline on the hike. The rest of the path was crushed gravel and pretty easy for the humans to walk on. Rebbe did not like it as much as we did, particularly when it was sunny, which probably made the gravel hot on his paws.

The eponymous tunnels appeared early in the hike. This was also the most “congested” part of the trail, meaning we saw a few other groups of walkers.

The trail crosses through interesting geologic formations and provides views of the Arkansas River as it flows from the Royal Gorge toward Cañon City.

And then it ends 😢

On the way back, we were lucky enough to get a glimpse of the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, which passes through the canyon only once a day in winter (more often in summer). If you look closely, you can also see a kayaker alongside the train!

I loved that this trail allowed us to get away from “civilization” quickly and easily. It was a good way to start getting our hiking juju back, and I recommend it as an easy hike for almost anyone.

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